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  1. Our first trip to Venice and thanks to Dean Gold, a very tasty one. Restaurants we particularly enjoyed in no real order: Al Mascaron - a true bacaro. Our first taste of genuine Sarde and Saor Trattoria da Fiore - San Marco - Spaghetti with pomodoro and huge prawns Rosa Salva - The best pastry in Venice Da Alvise - on the Fondamenta Nove - great Caprese, risotto with pesce accompanied by a 2002 Tamellini Soave that was wonderful. Da Pinto - a huge collection of wines with a wonderful restaurant wrapped around it. Thanks to Dean, we had a great meal and couple of complimentary glasses of limoncello when Milan beat Lyon in football. Ai Tre Spiedi - a tiny workingman's restaurant. Tables are crowded, the diners friendly, the house wine a very good vin rouge. Inexpensive and good. Try the salumi. It's hard to go wrong in Venice. Follow the locals, stay away from the tourist areas (San Marco, Doge's Palace, any place where gondoliers ask if you want a ride), explore alleyways, you'll find a lot of excellent food. On the side trip to Verona (slightly off-topic but definitely food related)...Ristorante Greppia. On a side street near the famous Montague/Capulet Balcony...the bolisto misto, a plate of boiled meats. There was tongue, cheek, and seven more. Tastes much better than it sounds.
  2. I'm traveling to Italy in the beginning of June with a friend. It's my first trip there and I'm so excited, but at the same time overwhelmed with all the dining options. After being on this board for a few years, I know that this is exactly the right place to go to for help. We are starting in Rome for a few days, then to Florence, Portofino/Cinque Terre, and then to Venice. I would really appreciate recommendations from each city, looking for a few top notch dinners, and great places for lunch, etc. I would like to have the best of each city in terms of superb local Italian cooking, from high end to casual. Thank you and I'll be sure to report back.
  3. Pinsa Love A couple of months ago, I got a message from one of our long-time members, Jordan Feinberg, seeking my advice for what sounded like an exciting project - a labor of love and passion. Have you ever heard of a “pinsa?” Jordan discovered these while traveling in Italy, and has poured his heart into making them available in the Washington, DC area. A pinsa is similar to a pizza, but it has a light, cloud-like crust due to more water and less salt in the dough (which also gives it fewer calories). The crust - which is like no other pizza crust I’ve ever tasted - uses a 72-hour fermentation, and in its final shape, is mottled with indentations due to it having been manually prodded and poked - the crust is thick, and when cooked, gives the illusion of being still wet (even though it’s not) with a thin, crispy periphery - top and bottom. The Latin “pinsere” means “to pound or stamp,” and that applies here - a pinsa isn’t perfectly round; it’s irregular and slightly oblong. Jordan’s pinsa has a crust that’s as good or better than any frozen pizza I’ve tasted. I sampled numerous versions, giving him feedback on what worked, what needed work, and what might work in today’s marketplace. And now that the pinsa has actually come to market, I was one of his first paying customers, and several versions of pinsa are sitting in my freezer as I type this. I would encourage people to start with a Classic Pinsa ($10.99), as this really lets the crust stand out, and from there, go on to some of the standard and exotic offerings (I’m curious to try the Nonna which is a riff on a classic Philadelphia roast pork-and-broccoli rabe sandwich; also the Carbone Classic which has a crust activated by charcoal and whole grains (apparently, charcoal is a popular, modern, “detox” method)). When you heat the pinsa, make sure you follow the directions and do it in your oven, but I can vouch that they reheat the next day just fine in a microwave without losing much of the “moist” quality in the crust. I have no financial interest in this product; I just answered a call for some advice, and now I look forward to being a paying customer, and hopefully watching the rise of the great American pinsa. Jordan’s website is www.Pinsa.Love, and you’ll also find ordering information there. Good luck to Jordan and his pinsa, which I hope will become a staple in many a DMV freezer. Cheers, Rocks
  4. "Poignant Ennio Morricone Street Art Appears in Rome, a Day after the Film Composer's Death" by Maddy Shaw Roberts on classicfm.com
  5. We're planning 3 days in Naples later this month and are hoping to try several of the classic Neapolitan pizza places, as well as other trattorias. Does anyone have any recent experience there? We're also venturing into Molise - Campobasso where 2 Gambero Rosso "Red" restaurants are located, and Bojano - where there's one. Ending with a night at the Torre Gaia "Wine Resort" in Campania near Dugenta. I know this is pretty much off the beaten track, but maybe someone else here has explored there?
  6. Does anyone have tips for how to make this successfully? My husband and I love it and our repeated attempts to make it have been failures. Usually we end up with pasta coated in slightly cheesy water with small lumps of cheese, or mostly bare pasta with the cheese in a lump at the bottom and/or stuck on the spoon or sides. We've tried just mixing the cheese in to wet pasta and adding water, whisking the cheese and water separately to try to make a sauce, and the method where you sort of make a paste of butter, cheese and pepper and add it to the pasta. what are we doing wrong?
  7. I'm looking for a dry Lambrusco to serve with an Emilia-Romagnan antipasti platter. Any suggestions for good ones and where to purchase?
  8. I will be visiting Rome for 4 days in March and staying at the Exedra Boscolo Hotel. It will not only be a short visit, but my first visit to Rome. I am trying to cram in must-see places (so MANY!!! ) and must-eat restaurants. I would very much appreciate recommendations of places that are in the $50-100pp range and one in the $300-400pp range. Thank you in advance!!
  9. My wife and I went to Florence in October for what was originally meant to be a long weekend. Alitalia had different ideas. They cancelled our return flight, so what was supposed to be a weekend turned into a week. Of that we spent four days in Florence. I found the city to be much like the Duomo, beautiful on the outside, empty on the inside. However, food and wine were a much different story. Some of the best food I have ever eaten took place over those four days. So here it is: Sosstanza � JoeH recommended this fine hole-in-the-wall restaurant to us. It specializes in Bistecca Alla Fiorentina (made from just the best Chiana beef). We went on our first night, and it was actually the first kibble that we had in Italy. Neither of us really wanted to eat after a long flight uncomfortable Alitalia flight (I really expected to see someone bring chickens on board). But we had reservations, so we went. We were the first people to show-up and had to kill some time before they opened for dinner. We wandered down to a neighboring street and found a butcher shop. I didn�t want to leave. The beef, the pork, the chickens, I just wanted to rub them all over my body, they were so gorgeous. My wife dragged me out so that we could go to dinner. We ventured back to the restaurant. As we approached the restaurant the metal screen was lifted and we went in for what we hoped would be a good meal. What we were met with was more than we could have imagined. We started with a plate of Prosciutto, and Finocchiona. The Prosciutto was unlike any version of the beautiful ham I had ever tried. This was almost as delicate as the finest Serrano. The velveteen texture of the heart was heavenly. The Finocchiona (a course dried sausage made with pork, pork fat, and fennel seeds) was loosely packed and the best we would find in the city. Because neither of us had much of an appetite we split a single T-Bone Bistecca. This steak was huge, it must have been a pound in a half of meat, and cost a whooping 19 euros. It was cooked rare, with a heavy amount of salt. The first bite I had was from the tenderloin portion of the T-Bone. It was actually flavorful. I can�t remember the last time I had a flavorful filet. It did not give-up any of its delicate texture to get that flavor. The next bite was a juicy piece of strip. There was so much juice it almost seemed that I was drinking beef stock. This was the single best steak I have ever eaten (even better than Peter Lugar�s). My wife followed it up with a radicchio salad. The greens were more sweet than bitter, and were simply dressed with olive oil. We finished our dinner with a wild strawberry, chocolate, and meringue desert. This was a simple desert with a baked meringue with chunks of milk chocolate, an ample amount of juicy and flavorful wild strawberries covered with whipped cream. Taking all of the ingredients together tastes almost as good as the steak. If you decide to go to the restaurant, do like the regulars and order the house red. The only people we saw ordering by the bottle were the table with Americans, and another filled with Australians. I can�t imagine that what these tables had was any better than the house wine. Neri � We went to many Gelaterias while we were in Florence, this was the only one that really struck me as something special. The others were good, and better than anything we have around here, but nothing that made me want to go out of my way to get some gelato. Neri was different. It was raining outside when we happened upon this little Gelateria, not exactly gelato weather. I ordered a Nutella and my wife a peanut butter. Both tasted better than their name stakes. We loved it so much we both ordered a second gelato. I ordered a raspberry and my wife a chocolate. These were just as good as our first selections. This gelataria is near Santa Croce, and a little out of the way, but worth the walk. Procacci � This is a small gourmet store/wine bar owned by the Antinori family. It is located on the tony Via Tornabuoni. We had several glasses of Prosecco and finger sandwiches. It was a nice little respite from our long walks on the uneven streets of Florence. The smoked salmon sandwiches were especially good. Il Pizzaiulo � This was another JoeH recommendation. We almost did not pay it a visit. On our last day in town we found ourselves with a number of hours to spare, and wandered outside of the Italian Disneyland also known as touristy Florence. We ventured into the outlying neighborhoods in search of markets and fun stores. We happened upon Il Pizzaiulo by happenstance, and we were quite glad that we did. Once we found it, we had 45 minutes to kill before they opened, and so we found a great wine store where we could buy wine from large casks. We bought their most expensive Niebbola for 5 euros (we drank it the next night in Milan, and must tell you that it was worth five times what we paid for it). We wondered back to the pizza place and still had ten minute to stalk the front entrance. It was well worth the wait. This restaurant is run by a family from Naples, and does their home city proud. We ordered two pizzas. One was a simple Margarita; the other was dotted with Prosciutto. These were the best pizzas I have ever eaten. It was not just the perfect crust, and the simple sauce, or the savory cheese, but all of it together. I am still having dreams about these pizzas, and I curse JoeH for introducing me to something that would put almost all other pizzas to shame. I was recently talking to someone else who always makes this a stop on trips to Florence. He told me that last year he took another American family to Il Pizzaiulo, when the teenager that was with them took her first bite she dropped her utensils and threw her hands in the air almost as if she had just scored a touchdown. That really summed-up my feeling about this pizza. Enoteca Pinchiorri � I have heard mixed opinions about this restaurant. Some find it to be a bit overdone; others claim it to be one of the best restaurants in the world. I have been disappointed by other �best restaurant in the world� in the past, so I went in hoping it would be good, but not banking on it. This is Italy�s only 3 star restaurant, and is known for its extremely large wine cellar (from what they told us, they now have 220,000 bottles). When you arrive at this unmarked but stunningly beautiful former palace you are met by doormen who escort you to a sitting room. You are then taken to your table in one of five dinning rooms. Since my wife made the reservation in her impeccable Italian we were not relegated to the �English only� room where most Italians are seated. Lucky for me, the waiter was quite fluent in English and could tell me what we were eating. We ordered the Grand Degustazione Menu. The wine can be purchased by the bottle, or as a tasting menu. The wine tasting menu allows the diner to order wine based on how much he or she wishes to spend. It can range from around 120 euros per person, to over 3500 euros per person. When it comes to these tasting choices, you get what you pay for. We went for a mid level choice with all Italian wines. The Degustazione Menu says this is a 9 course meal, reality is that we had about 15. I cannot remember all of them, but I will describe what I can. We started with a glass of vintage Champagne (a boutique house I had never seen before, and wish I had written down the name), we also received a sweet and savory tuile. It was dotted with sunflower seeds and a sprinkled of sea salt. Next they served a study of tomatoes. One of the components of this dish that sticks in my mind is the tomato water. It was a clear liquid that is drained from chopped tomatoes. It tasted like the most perfectly ripe tomato in a glass. One of the next dishes was what looked like a simple foie gras and apple dish. It was much more. The foie was delicately cooked and served along with an apple jelly, apple puree, and prune bread. The tartness of the apple, the sweetness of the bread, and the fattiness of the liver was a match made in heaven. Next arrived a crab salad topped with onion foam. I am not sure how to describe this dish. The crab was impeccably fresh and was joined with small bits of cucumbers, and topped with a cloud like caramelized onion foam. This was a dish with so many layers that it defies explanation. At the point that I ate this, I felt that it was the best dish I had ever eaten. The crab salad was followed by a dish that did not challenge us with contrasting flavors, but contrasting temperatures and textures. This dish was a bowl of hot porcini soup, with a scoop of porcini ice cream and topped with a thick slice of porcini tempura. Who would have thought that mushroom ice cream would be appealing, but it was. The hot, and cold, along with the creamy and crunchy made us quickly forget about the crab salad. I never wanted this dish to end. But lucky for us it did end. The next dish was saffron pasta stuffed with an perfectly fresh ricotta, with a shrimp ragu, and topped with strips of licorice root. The flavors matched perfectly, the saffron and shrimp met with the exotic licorice root. This became the best dish that I have ever eaten. This was followed by red wine braised short ribs that have been braised for three days. There was so much gelatin in this dish that my lips were almost sealed together. The flavor was intense, the texture was delicate. Amongst other things we also enjoyed a squab dish, a cheese fondue, plus a cheese cart, and a heavenly strawberry dessert. The wines from that night were: 2001 Borgo del Tiglio Ronco Della Chiesa 2000 Antinori Solaia 1999 Paleo 1998 Carbonaione 1997 Barolo Le Vigne Sandrone 1997 Brunello Pian Delle Vigne 1986 Castello di Ama L�apparita We were also treated to a dessert wine, plus a bottle of wine as a gift when we left. The restaurant did a fabulous job at treating us like we were the only dinners that they were going to have that day, but yet we were in a restaurant with every table full. This was simply the greatest meal I have ever eaten anywhere.
  10. I didn't see a thread about Florence yet, though did see the Tuscany thread. I thought Florence probably deserved a separate thread, but feel free to merge with Tuscany if that's the preference. We've spent the last couple of days in Florence after having been in Venice for 5 days. Compared to Venice, finding good food is like shooting fish in a barrel. So far in Florence we've been to: Il Latini Gobi 13 Il Profeta Il Latini and Gobi 13 were suggestions from a friend of ours that spent a couple of months in Florence a couple of years ago, Il Profeta we found on TripAdvisor. At Il Latini we were at the door by 7:15 (they open at 7:30 for dinner, as many of restaurants do in Florence/Italy) and there was already a couple of people waiting, growing to a decent crowd by 7:30. Luckily the restaurant is fairly decently sized so they had no problem taking everyone at once. Though there was a menu posted outside, once we sat down you never saw a menu again. One guy goes around taking everyone's order and just asks what they would like and gives a couple of suggestions. Wine is on the table and you just get charged for what you drink (theoretically... We didn't get charged and neither did the other couple at the table with us and we drank almost the entire 2L bottle). The low point of the meal was the dessert, a profiterole that was simply okay. The rest of the meal was excellent. We had prosciutto and melon for antipasti, which also comes with some other salumi as well as duck liver pate on crostini; gnocchi alla quatro formaggi and pomodoro soup for our primis; and a veal chop and beef in tomato sauce for our secondis. All executed very well. The veal chop in particular was very flavorful and tender. On the house came out vinsanto and biscotti, as well as a glass of muscato. We definitely understood why it has earned the reputation as the loudest dining room in Florence. You are seated communally if there are two of you, so you end up with at least one other couple at your table. Inevitably you end up talking and soon the whole room is learning about the people they are sitting with. We ended up with some good tips for Rome from the couple we were sitting with and we gave them some tips for Venice as they were going the opposite direction compared to us (we are going Venice -> Florence -> Rome). The check ended up being 85 euro for two cover charges, 2 antipasti, 2 primi, 2 secondi, 1 side dish (roast potatoes, also done well) and 1 dessert. Not a bad price at all for the quantity or quality of food. The second place we went out to is Gobi 13. This was on Friday night, which we had somewhat forgotten about as the days kind of run together on vacation This appears to be the place to be in the area of town we are staying as there were alot of people eating here and many more waiting to get in. We ended up waiting for a table for about 30 minutes, but then were finally seating on the patio around 9:30-9:45 or so. Here we had caprese salad, ribolita soup, rigatoni and Veal Osso Buco with mashed potatoes. The check ended up being around 60 or 65 euro I believe, which included a liter of house wine and a bottle of water. Everything was executed well. The caprese had a nice saltwater taste to the buffala that really went over well with us. The rigatoni is a house specialty and had nice layers of flavor. Neither one of us caught what the sauce was on the rigatoni (I thought it was some sort of a tomato-vodka sauce, Pam thought it was something else) but regardless it was excellent. The Veal Osso Buco was very tender and the mashed potatoes helped pick up the sauce around the osso buco. Our meal last night was at Il Profeta, and has been by far the best meal we've had in Italy thus far. Location: Via Borgonissanti, 93 R 50123 Firenze Dinner consisted of: Bruschetta Ribiletta Gnocchi with Pecorino di Fossi il Gratinato del Granduca Bistecca del Fiorintino House wine Sopa di Profeta Cheesecake Limoncello In Michelin 26 years in a row evidently. Claudio (co-owner with his wife Martina) walked us through the menu, which was good as there were a number of items that I wasn't certain what they were (not that I'm an expert on Italian cuisine). He asked each table they sat if they needed some help with the menu, and each one that answered that they did, he walked them through the menu. The secondi were all translated, but the specialties of the house and the daily menu were not translated and I certainly did not recognize some of them. The bruschetta was made with the olive oil judged as the best olive oil in Tuscany. Possibly the first time I've had good olive oil. The flavors seemed to burst off the plate. The gnocchi were the best I've had, including numerous other dishes in Tuscany as well as Palena. The gnocchi themselves were perfect pillows that burst in your mouth and the cheese sauce (made with Pecorino di Fossi/Fassi ?) was wonderfully smooth with just the perfect texture and weight. The Ribiletta was very good, though not a show-stopper. I liked it much better than Pam did (who ordered it), but wasn't about to give up my gnocchi for it. The layers of flavors in the soup were evident and in talking with Claudio after the meal he said alot of the difference between the Ribiletta we had at Il Profeta and what we had at Gobbi 13 (which was also satisfying, but not nearly as good) was that all the vegetables for the soup were fresh, which isn't all that common since it takes alot of time to prepare all the vegetables. Bistecca del Fiorintino was everything that I expected it to be. It was good, possibly even great, and I was thankful that I ordered it. However, it was difficult for it to stand up to the Gratinato del Granduca. The Gratinato del Graduca was kind of like getting hit in the head with a large block of Parmesan. If you don't like Parmesan you will absolutely hate this dish. It's basically a bowl made of Parmesan cheese (and some kind of filler to get it to stay together... meant to add flavor to the dish but not to eat), with angel hair pasta, Parmesan cheese sauce, truffle oil, and a gratin of Parmesan cheese on top and then baked. It was easily the best dish of the night. In talking with Claudio at the end of the night we were talking about the dish and we asked him if they used real truffle oil instead of synthetic. He answered that they did and starting describing how they made their truffle oil. He had me sold I really don't have words to adequately describe this dish. I'm not certain that I could eat it every day as it was powerfully flavored, but the dish itself was balanced well between the truffle and the Parmesan. Really quite a wonderful dish. At that point we had finished about a liter of the house wine and were thinking it was about time to head out (as it was almost 11pm) but figured we should take a look at the dessert cart. The waiter described what they were unfortunately out of (what, to torture us?), the Chianti-poached pears, the creme caramel, etc. They had a couple of options remaining, namely creme puffs, cheesecake, and sopa di profeta. We chose the cheesecake as we had been wanting to try it somewhere and figured here was as good a place as any. They evidently disagreed, as they brought us out some sopa di profeta gratis, just so we could try what we had decided against. The zabaglione on top was wonderfully light and yet creamy and altogether brought this rather unusual tiramisu together. It certainly wasn't the tiramisu that I was expected when they described it as "like tiramisu", but really quite good. I know every restaurant fiddles with tiramisu, and I'm not certain that this one could replace what I think of in my mind as tiramisu, but I'm pretty certain that I would take it over tiramisu any day. You could definitely tell that tiramisu was where they started from (the soaked ladyfinger were still present, as was the powder that's typically on the top of tiramisu, though moved to the edge of the plate), but the sabayon really made it something different and better. The cheesecake itself, which they brought us after, was fine - nothing special. It was topped with a lemon and chocolate sauce that probably would have been better if it hadn't been following up the sopa di profeta. After a round of limoncello on the house and talking with Claudio for a few minutes we headed out to our hotel a couple blocks away, talking about the food the whole way back. The check was for 120 euro. Certainly not a cheap dinner by any means, but easily the best we've had in Italy. We have one more night in Florence before going to Rome. We are still trying to decide whether to go with a new restaurant or go back to one of the three that we've liked so much so far. A tough choice but a good one to have
  11. The Group of Six (G6) existed from 1975-1976, and included France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdon, and the United States. The Group of Seven (G7) first existed from 1976-1997, and added Canada. The Group of Eight (G8) existed from 1997-2014, and added (then kicked out) Russia. The Group of Seven (G7) has existed again since 2014.
  12. I am off to Bologna, Italy in a week or so. I am sure I can do no wrong food-wise, but any advice is appreciated. Cheers.
  13. In celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jacopo Tintoretto, the National Gallery is launched a major three part exhibition starting March 4 and running thru June 9 and July 7, including the first retrospective of the artist in North America. Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice (March 24-July 7, 2019) In celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jacopo Tintoretto (1518/1519–1594), the National Gallery of Art, Washington and the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia with the special cooperation of the Gallerie dell’Accademia, will organize a major exhibition on the Venetian master. Following its opening at the Palazzo Ducale, Venice, beginning in September 2018, Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice will travel to the Gallery—its only other venue—from March 24 through July 7, 2019. As the first retrospective of the artist in North America, the exhibition will include many significant international loans traveling to the U.S. for the first time. The exhibition will feature nearly 50 paintings and more than a dozen works on paper spanning the artist’s entire career and ranging from regal portraits of Venetian aristocracy to religious and mythological narrative scenes. Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice (March 24-June 9, 2019) The first exhibition to focus specifically on Tintoretto’s work as a draftsman, Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice provides new ideas about his evolution as a draftsman, about the dating and function of the so-called sculpture drawings, and about Tintoretto’s place in the Venetian tradition. Venetian Prints in the Time of Tintoretto (March 24-June 9, 2019) Completing the panorama of Venetian art in the time Tintoretto is an exhibition that will present some 40 prints from the second half of the 16th century, ranging from the exquisite etchings of Parmigianino and his immediate followers in the Veneto, to the spectacular woodcuts of Giuseppe Scolari, most from the Gallery’s own collection. They will reveal a critical source for Tintoretto’s artistic formation, parallel developments toward a distinctively Venetian mannerism, and striking graphic responses to the dynamism and expressiveness of Tintoretto’s style.
  14. Did you know that Carbonara didn't exist until after WWII? And in many ways, it's an American dish? I sure didn't know this. From Wikipedia: Pasta alla carbonara is unrecorded before the Second World War; notably, it is absent from Ada Boni's 1930 La Cucina Romana. The dish is first attested in 1950, when it was described in the Italian newspaper La Stampa as a dish sought by the American officers after the allied liberation of Rome in 1944.[23] It was described as a Roman dish, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by troops from the United States.[24] It was included in Elizabeth David's Italian Food, an English-language cookbook published in Great Britain in 1954.[25]
  15. Manu Ginobili has been one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA basketball over its long history, and coincidentally has a career which overlaps with Dwayne Wade's. Interesting ballplayer. While he has been a starter he's been a 6th man most of his career. He's played on one of the dominant franchises in NBA history; The San Antonio Spurs during the 2000's to this year, 2014, and similarly strong from 1990. That franchise has had 21 seasons of 50 wins or more since 1990, a truly astounding record of strength, competitiveness, dominance at times, and sustained long term excellence. Ginobili started his professional basketball career in South America and Europe, was drafted in the 2nd round by the spurs but stayed a few more years in European leagues before coming to the NBA. He ends up being one of the true international basketball stars, playing with dominance in several leagues. Ginobili has been a cog inside the San Antonio powerhouse basketball teams, being one of three stars with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker over their long run through the last dozen years. Ginobili primarily took a 2ndary role but has had astounding single game performances and many clutch games and moments. This long video shows his highlights in a number of areas, dribbling, passing, shooting driving, defense, etc. Another player with long term spectacular skills.
  16. I'm taking a sailing vacation in the Aeolian Islands (off of Sicily) later this summer, and plan to add a few days to do some on-shore exploring. Am trying to decide among Puglia, the Amalfi Coast, and potentially trekking up to Tuscany. Any tips (dining or otherwise)? Does anyone know of any worthwhile cooking classes in any of those areas? I guess I'd consider Rome too, although it's lower on my list. (Don, feel free to split this into separate threads if responses warrant it...)
  17. My wife and I are doing an Alps tour -- Switzerland (Lucerne), Italy (Lake Como and then Verona), Austria (childhood memory of a place called Schladming) and flying out of Munich in Germany. Looking for suggestions and tips for wine touring in Italy in particular, and especially near-ish Verona. I know you have to make appointments and I need to get busy NOW since we'll soon be traveling. Any places I really should try? Tips on getting to places to look at the vineyards and maybe taste some wines (or at least have lunch or snacks nearby where I can buy some of the wines to try myself? I'd really appreciate it. As for food and restaurants, we'll follow our noses and research, but any suggestions there are welcome. We'll be driving so we'll have a car and can go anywhere. From dives and autostrada rest stops to the finest of the fine, it's all good to me. Thanks mucho!
  18. Should've made it Turandot. Hey, I saw the world premiere of M. Butterfly (maybe not *the* world premiere, but during its first run in Feb or Mar, 1988).
  19. "The Secret Behind Italy's Rarest Pasta" by Eliot Stein on bbc.com How rare? Only three people in the world know how to make it.
  20. Italian town known for its pasta dish ‘is no more’ after earthquake, by James McAuley on washingtonpost.com, August 24, 2016, at 10:40 AM.
  21. Unlike my write-ups about Comté and Manchego, Pecorino - and most certainly Pecorino Romano - is not even close to being the largest-production DOP (Denominazione Origine Protetta) cheese in Italy. Right off the bat, Parmigiano-Reggiano comes to mind, and you also have cheeses (some DOP, some not) such as Mozzarella and Provolone, most of which are bastardized and mass-produced for export, or even made in America, but if you had the real thing, locally, it would be a mind-blowing experience. This reminds me of when I had dinner at Marc Veyrat in Annecy. At the end of the greatest meal I've ever had, a gentleman came by, pushing a cheese cart the size of an upright piano, asking us which cheeses we'd like. Eager to show my love of Haute-Savoie, I chirped, 'We'd like to try an assortment of local cheeses - except for Reblochon, because we can get that in America.' I was met with a moment of silence, accompanied by a look that only the French are capable of producing: The look is a mixture of sympathy, concern, and condescension, all at once, and somehow not conveyed as the least bit condescending. The gentleman looked me dead in the eye, and said, without any hint of expression on his face: "Get the Reblochon." Needless to say, we did, and it was one the happiest moments of my life (I mean that seriously). Never before had I truly eaten Reblochon, and I would have never known had it not been for that gentleman. It was like nothing of this earth - a revelation that ... what the hell am I talking about? Genuine Pecorino Romano must (*must*) be made from the milk of sheep raised in Lazio or Sardinia (yes, Sardinia) - there's also a Pecorino Sardo, but Pecorino Romano can be made in both places). It must be made with the rennet of lambs raised in the same area, and is therefore not vegetarian-friendly. Let me also stress, from personal experience, that real Pecorino Romano is salty as *hell*. Remember this, and don't say you weren't warned! Fulvi is a producer of cheese owned by the Sini family (this webpage has been translated for readability). It is easily recognizable by the ship's anchor used as a logo, indicating sea transportation of their product: Given its saltiness and firm texture - not to mention its proximity to Rome - it's easy to see why this is often used as a grating cheese (hell, you wouldn't need to salt your pasta). Pecorino Romano is saltier, and less rich, than other Pecorino cheeses - it has been made since the days of the Ancient Roman Empire - in fact, it was fed to their soldiers as a means of quick, inexpensive protein. Here's a good, concise history of the cheese that is well-worth the two minutes it will take you to read - that website also has a few links in case you want to dig deeper. How many other cheeses of the world has *Homer* written about? And I'm not talking about this guy:
  22. Following in the spirit of our "The 101 Departments and 18 Regions of France" Thread, I'm beginning one for their southeastern neighbor, Italy. There are almost identical numbers of Provinces/Regions in Italy as there are Departments/Regions in France (note the almost-identical usage of the word "Region" for the two countries). Furthermore, each Province in Italy is broken down into Comunes, and there are - hold your breath - 8,100 comunes in Italy. Knowing all 8,100 Comunes in Italy would be like memorizing all the Counties or Cities in the U.S. (there are 3,143 U.S. Counties and around 19,354 U.S. Cities), and is of little value for the average person, even for the average student of local geography. Practically speaking, the smallest levels of political division citizens (not tourists, but citizens of both nations) need to know are the 101 "Departments" in France, and the 110 "Provinces" in Italy (both of which are like learning the 50 "States" in the U.S., only even more precise, since the U.S. is a *much* larger country (France is the size of Texas), and has only about half the states that France/Italy do Departments/Provinces. My criteria for finding a good Region map were twofold: 1) Have the names in Italian (e.g., "Valle d'Aosta" instead of "Aosta Valley"), and 2) Show their capitals: As you can probably guess, it's difficult to cram in 110 Provinces into such a small area, so this is about the best I could find:
  23. Last night, I watched a *great* episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (Season 1, Episode 16) starring an impossibly beautiful Marisa Pavan - this is an episode that I urge people to watch on Hulu - it also stars John Cassavetes who, to my surprise, was subsequently nominated for Academy Awards in three different categories (supporting actor, screenwriter, and director). Anyway, I was reading about Marisa Pavan on Wikipedia, and two things stood out about her so much that I wanted to begin a thread about her: I don't normally care who's married to whom, but in this case, it's not only worth a mention - it's also worth a nod of honor: Pavan was married to French director Jean-Pierre Aumont for fully 45 years, from 1956 (the year after the Hitchcock episode debuted) until Aumont's death in 2001. It warms my heart to see couples get married and *stay* married for such a long period of time - if you look at pictures of both Pavan and Aumont, it's not hard to see that there was a mutual physical attraction back in 1956, but when people age and lose their youthful appearance, then something else must necessarily take over as the glue holding together the machine. Congratulations to this couple on a long, and hopefully happy, marriage, and my only regret is that Ms. Pavan has been forced to live so long as a widow. (In the interest of full disclosure, the couple once divorced, but remarried.) The other remarkable thing is that Pavan is an identical twin to Pier Angeli, who unfortunately passed away 44 years ago (it must be an especially odd feeling having an identical twin die, and it's just weird to be predeceased by an identical twin for so many decades). Anyway, when Pier Angeli was assigned the role of Anna Magnani's daughter in "The Rose Tattoo," but unable to play the part, the producers simply gave the role to her twin sister, Marisa Pavan - and that turned out to be Pavan's big breakthrough. Not only was Pavan nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Supporting Actress," she also accepted the "Best Actress" award for Anna Magnani, who was unable to attend the event. "The Rose Tattoo," and the Academy Awards which followed, is considered to be Pavan's "breakthrough moment" - it wouldn't surprise me at all if Pavan and Aumont met each other at the ceremony.
  24. If you're reading this, there's a pretty good chance you're sitting in a location that was named not only after George Washington, but also Christopher Columbus. Only Amerigo Vespucci could possibly claim greater unearned namesake posterity in this old-new world. I'm wondering if folks here would be willing to disclose their ages (I'm 54), and the degree to which they were taught that "Columbus discovered America" when they were children. It is *amazing* how much things stick in the minds of people when they become adults - because I was so thoroughly indoctrinated with lessons of Spanish and Portuguese explorers (Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Bartholomew Dias, etc.), I find myself having to struggle to accept even something as innocuous as the possibility of a visitation by Leif Erikson, much less being able to fully grasp the obvious fact that Native Americans had been here for at least 13,000 years (!) before "Columbus discovered America." I still remember dear, sweet, Mrs. Mayberry - my fourth-grade teacher - singing the rhyming song, "In 1492, Columbus dropped his shoe" as a way to get us to remember the year that "America was discovered." It certainly wasn't her fault; she was brainwashed just as I was, only about fifty years beforehand. I vaguely remember Erikson being mentioned, but only as a theory and a possibility; we certainly didn't spend a whole lot of time on "Native American Studies" - we touched on it, but my working knowledge of Native American tribes, with all their rich, complex histories, was formed mainly as an adult, and remains quite weak even to this day: It's pretty pathetic that I couldn't name-and-locate ten tribes on a map, and I certainly couldn't do it without some help from Wikipedia (I could name ten, or fifty, or whatever, but if I had to pinpoint where they were based, it would very quickly become challenging, and most of my correct answers would come from recollecting city names and college mascots). I don't know enough about Columbus to hold anything against the man, so this is absolutely *not* an anti-Columbus post, but this is an extremely visceral example of how powerful a tool the brainwashing of children is - writing whatever you wish on their tabulae rasae, and having them swallow it like candy, unquestioningly, until they're old (and cynical) enough to realize that this candy often has a bitter finish, and as we've all seen through countless, terrible examples of human behavior, the typical person isn't cynical enough to *ever* rebuke the lies that they've been fed as children, unless they've been repeatedly exposed to other belief systems over a long period of time. Columbus is only one example - there are many, and it's probably best not to get into the details of what they are, but I think it's safe to say that such teachings have resulted many, many times in the dehumanization of untold numbers of unfortunate people, and groups of people, throughout world history. So, how old are you, and to what degree were you brainwashed by this?
  25. Visit Olio2go on Hilltop, Saturday, April 23, 11:00-1:00 to taste Italian Award Winning Olive Oils from the New York International Olive Oil Competition. Our selections include: BEST IN CLASS Cultivar Frantoio from Filippo Alampi at Fattoria Ramerino GOLD Fattoria Ramerino Primus Fonte di Foiano 1979 Dievole DOP Chianti Classico Centonze Case di Latomie SILVER Fratelli Colletti Tenute Librandi Nocellara del Belice Frantoi Cutrera Primo DOP Frescobaldi Laudemio conta.cc/20WZoJI 10% off purchases of these oils on Saturday if you mention Don Rockwell! Luanne Olio2go.com
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